Results 1 to 23 of 23

Thread: Scottish Dee Partnership

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Just a little to the right of the Shire
    Posts
    2,773

    Default The Scottish Dee Partnership

    2017’s canoe camping trip, the plan was to paddle from as far up the Scottish Dee to the Sea (or as close as)
    The Partnership = Tim Wheeler, Alex D and myself.

    Day 1 (Sunday 17/9/17)
    After Saturday’s eventful drive up to our “base camp and centre of operations” Tarland, this being a small village mid-way between the Linn of Dee and Aberdeen and; as luck would have it a pub and a Camping and Caravanning Club site.
    From here we set out on the car shuttle, transporting boats and kit to the put in as high up the river as we deemed practicable, the Linn of Dee.

    Not quite do-able here...






    Mauling the boats and kit down to the river bank from the car park was hot work, resulting in heavy breathing and a shining beacon to all the local midges.
    My task for the next few hours was keeping an eye on the boats and kit. As the midges were out, I quickly donned my midge-net and thin gloves. I did get a few funny looks but hey, the little blood suckers couldn’t get to me so I didn’t care.


    The gang returned to the put in and the trip had now officially begun.



    We turned into the flow, I patted my damaged boat hoping she would be ok. The river meandered left then right and straight into a rapid.

    Erm….we didn’t expect one quite so soon, the only line was to go far river left and duck under a fallen tree.

    Tim went first, I watched him as he dropped down the first ledge. Problem was; whilst I watched my boat had drifted towards a submerged boulder. With a “bump” The front of my boat caught the boulder and the back end was pushed around by the flow, I was now heading towards the tree backwards (for reference this small rapid is viewable on google earth “street view” along the river path)
    Now the down side of not packing light is a less responsive boat. With a few grunts and groans I had just managed to turn my boat the right way, I ended up a little too far right, I managed to duck under the tree but my boat clipped the ledge and tipped me over on my off side.

    What a great way to start a multi-day trip……NOT

    I instinctively held onto my swim line with a hope I could self-rescue. But after a few seconds I decided it wasn’t a great idea; so, I let go!! I once again watched my pride and joy bounce out of control, fortunately this time it was on a river not the M74!
    After about a 20-meter bumpy swim I made my way to the bank, paddle still in hand. Once on dry land I ran like hell after my boat. 100-meters after the rapid was a boulder/gravel beach where I waded and rescued my boat.



    Tim and Alex picked up what little kit that went wayward, being spare paddle, drinks bottles, skin-so-soft and sponge. On the plus side my two-piece (dry top and saloppettes) kept me dryer than I could have hoped, so I am pleased about that.

    Bailers and pumps needed



    Lining the boats to deeper water


    We were soon back on the water and soon approaching yet another rapid. We took one look and decided not to run it.

    Looking upstream from camp #1



    The afternoon was wearing on and we tend to look for suitable campsites at 15:00 hrs; to us the camping aspect of the trip is nearly as important as the canoeing. That’s why we travel…. rather heavy.

    We found a suitable campsite grid ref: NO- 079 –897.
    After only about 1 ½ km it was time to call it a day, we needed to collect and prepare fire wood for the evening meal.
    Why paddle on? We were on holiday after all.

    Up goes the tarp and Tipi, the fire box was prepared for both midge protection and the meal. On the menu tonight was Alex’s spaghetti and meat balls washed down with some Chardonnay. After this it was time to sit back and relax with a wee dram or two in our comfy lightweight chairs (see we do go light weight) and watch the campsite telly, tonight’s programme: campfire kettle boils water.







    Day #2 to follow........
    Last edited by tim; 30th-September-2017 at 08:26 AM.
    Cheers
    Tim


    Paddles a Prospector

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Surrey
    Posts
    21,909

    Default

    An eventful start....
    Paddler,blogger,camper,pyromaniac: Blog: Wilderness is a State of Mind

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Just a little to the right of the Shire
    Posts
    2,773

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Grey View Post
    An eventful start....
    Yep
    Cheers
    Tim


    Paddles a Prospector

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Just a little to the right of the Shire
    Posts
    2,773

    Default

    Day Two. (Monday 18/9/17)
    (Apologies for lack of suitable photo's this day)

    Up bright and early to set the fire going for fresh ground coffee, flasks and breakfast.



    We packed away made good the site and neatly stacked surplus fire wood in a sheltered spot and very soon we were on the water for a relaxed 09:45.
    The river here was shallow and meandering with a few low-lying islands to negotiate round with the odd riffle here and there.





    There was a chill breeze blowing so we picked up the pace simply to warm ourselves up.
    We passed Braemar, not that we knew it as the only indicator we really saw was where Clunnie Water joins the Dee.


    4 or so kilometres down from Braemer we hit a boulder garden and the A93 bridge, indicators for the Invercauld Rapids marked at Grade 2 – 3 but at this level it was more. So, we lined our boats around it’s big boat swamping hole.







    After this rapid the boulder gardens started to come in thick and fast, although most were not dangerous these boulder gardens demanded a lot of concentration. Picking lines between boulders that would stop, ground or spin an open boat. There were no real obvious lines, you had to find a “gateway” in then run them blind altering your route as you go picking lines concentrating mainly on 5 - 6 meters ahead with the occasional glimpse ahead looking for a horizon line: indicating a drop. Using markers such as subtle changes in the shape of the wavelets, bumps in the river surface and spotting the eddies behind the hidden and exposed boulders that can also be “ducked in” to slow you down and assist in moving across the river by setting in and reverse ferry gliding.

    It’s a shame we couldn’t enjoy the view as I am sure it was stunning, but you really needed to pay attention.

    Running the boulder gardens is great fun however some sections had cheeky little drops at the end which required a good solid low brace and a little bailing, some had big bad boat eaters that really needed avoiding and my boat had taken enough punishment so far that week.




    We approached the B976 bridge just before Balmoral, when suddenly Tim (our resident river god) made a sudden manoeuvre and dropped into an eddy river left, something couldn’t be right! I started a reverse ferry to join him paddling hard backwards, I noticed a drop; not much of a drop. What had he seen? I reached a point where my boat had stalled, it was touch and go if I could successfully make the eddy without some drastic action. I looked at the drop, saw nothing that would cause me any difficulty. “I’m going for it” and neatly plopped over.
    There is a rumour going around that I made a “OoooOhh! Ing” sound. I don’t remember doing that so it couldn’t have happened!!
    Tim and Alex plopped over taking in a little water.

    We passed Balmoral, you could only take a quick glimpse of the building across the manicured lawns as the trees were planted blocking the view. I waved just in case Queenie and Co were watching as we floated past. I looked down checking to see if I had little red dots of light float about on my BA.




    It was approaching 15:00hrs time to scout for a campsite. We checked river left at Clachanturn but that was a little too marshy so opted for the other side of the river and a nice site grid ref: NO 278 950 where we made camp. Again, the tarp was raised and the fire was set.



    The owner of the nearby cottage walked passed with her dog and asked us if we needed any dry wood! How cool is that?
    Now that’s a damn site better than a “Get orf moi LAAND!”

    Our meal was cooked by Tim this being Moorish Tagine, washed down with some fine malt whisky. Oh yeah, that’s how we roll…



    Same telly again that evening, Campfire kettle boils water part deux.


    That night the stars were out and during the night; the temperature plummeted wakening me up, I zipped up my three-season bag and hunkered down inside and fell back to slumber, warm as toast and comfortable as can be on my camp bed/inflatable mattress combo.
    Cheers
    Tim


    Paddles a Prospector

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Just a little to the right of the Shire
    Posts
    2,773

    Default

    Day 3, (Tuesday 19/9/17)
    I was up and out preparing the fire as the sun came up, wow! Mist rose from the river, our dry bags coated with a thin layer of ice the coffee was on. Canoe camping doesn’t get much better than this.





    Once again it was 09:45 or there abouts when we set off, for one of the best days on a river.

    Abergeldie castle came into view, with its overhanging tower and small trap door, I would imagine it to be great for warding off unwanted guests with it’s messy missiles launched from above…



    Relentless boulder gardens as the day before, some as far as the eye can see. Great fun but just a little tiring both mentally and physically.





    On google earth the river level is about the same and if you look you can see smudgy white “clouds” on the river, these are those boulder gardens.

















    We passed underneath another foot bridge that showed signs of debris damage.


    Soon after we came across what was marked on my map as “rock rapids” an easy grade 2 that required a little bailing.

    We approached Dinnet Rapid with some caution, after inspecting it Tim decided to give it a go. With bated breath, I watched Tim get pinned thus requiring a technical dismount. Tim was on the other side of the river and therefore on his own to sort his boat out. Which he did admirably only losing one dry bag.





    Alex went into pursuit, over the bridge he ran as the bag went towards river left. Then it moved over to river right. Alex still in pursuit and was about to swim out for it. When Tim came into view. “Alex” said Tim – “It’s only fire wood” ….. as he hauled it back into his boat.

    Alex and I lined our boats down.


    Time was ticking on and we started to scout for camp 3, as luck would have it we found one soon after. Grid ref:471-988. A sheltered spot with sand. No tarp needed as the weather and the midges played ball.



    A fire pit was dug and one of the fire box’s sunk into it ready for my meal.




    A traditional Scottish dish = Mackerel and Chorizo Paella. That seemed to go down well, with some white wine of course.

    (more to follow I have chores to do )
    Cheers
    Tim


    Paddles a Prospector

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Aberdeenshire
    Posts
    176

    Default

    Loving it so far. That's a fabulous drinking vessel, or is it a very sophisticated bailer?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Just a little to the right of the Shire
    Posts
    2,773

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bananaboat View Post
    Loving it so far.
    Thanks, to be fair the pictures and bloggage doesn't do the river trip justice

    Quote Originally Posted by Bananaboat View Post
    That's a fabulous drinking vessel, or is it a very sophisticated bailer?
    Alex's goblet certainly bailed out the box of wine
    Cheers
    Tim


    Paddles a Prospector

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Yalding, Kent
    Posts
    2,669

    Default

    Enjoying the reports. I remember also having quite an eventful start at Linn O Dee. Interesting to see at these levels, I think we had more water so far fewer rocks to dodge and probably easier I think than for you especially carrying that paella.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Oldbury, West Midlands
    Posts
    125

    Default

    great blog and cracking pictures.
    Fair play too you, i would be so gutted with the trailer and boat damage , but as been said before lest nobody injured and you could carry on with the trip.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Just a little to the right of the Shire
    Posts
    2,773

    Default

    Day 4 (Wednesday 20/9/17)

    The day dawned and the weather not so good today overcast but ok. We launched the boats down a bank peeked around the corner, satisfied all was good we were away.







    More boulder gardens followed, we past Aboyne again this small town was partly hidden by trees. Around a nearby island and we were once again out in the sticks and dodging boulders.
    A few more kilometres later we approached the B993 bridge and another rapid at Portarch.


    Not quite trusting the grades from the guides, we jumped out inspected the rapid and saw a straightforward line.
    Alex now positioned with a Camera, I walked up towards Tim, who at the time was dashing off with a roll of loo paper!
    I took the lead and shot the rapid, no drama at all. This named and guide marked rapid was far easier than many of the ones we have ran and were not marked!
    I took over from Alex as camera man when Tim shot past my boat which was quietly bobbing about in the eddy.
    The Alex shot the rapid, again no drama what so ever….








    More minor rapids followed.
    We studied the map and saw a substantial woodland, beyond that civilisation seemed to be creeping in, as was the weather. Could this be the last opportunity to find a decent campsite? We weren’t sure.
    So, after a reasonably short day on the river we started to look for a campsite.
    We found a grassy site grid ref: NO 641 957. Tucked away at the end of a track.

    View from the camp




    This new campsite had an existing fire pit for us to fill with a fire box, using the fire box means we didn’t run the risk of exploding stones and the fire itself is more efficient.



    Tracking down wood was a breeze, there was plenty of drift wood from previous high water. Some wood worrying enough was wrapped around trees higher than the top of the tipi! The rain wasn’t falling that heavy…..I hoped.

    We decided that tomorrow would be the last day on the water, only 35km to Aberdeen. But first we had to negotiate two rapids one a grade 2 and one a grade 2-3, but that was for tomorrow. We had more on our minds for that night, what to eat?
    We all bought ingredients for one main meal plus extras. It was the extras we used in a ready-steady cook scenario.
    Between ourselves we made a scrummy pork Pasanda dish, followed by Tim’s traditional Spotted Jock and custard.



    The rain/drizzle had now set in, the fire was happily doing what it does best, boil water.However, it’s not all doom and gloom as we are not restricted to tiny tents; we have the pleasure of sitting under the tarp with a campfire in the rain, warm, dry and oh so comfortable.






    Day 5 (Thursday 21/9/17)

    The final day we packed away in the wet, the cotton canvas tipi now weighing a ton. Again, another down side of packing not-so-light. Despite the rain during the night the river had not gained any noticeable volume.

    But, we had coffee



    We launched and with a mere 2km of paddling and a minor rapid we came across the first of the last two main rapids of the river.
    A quick inspection to satisfy ourselves and we ran the first one. Easy enough just a few rocks and boat sploshing wave trains to deal with, I took in some water. About four inches.


    After bailing out (this was a team effort in my case) we came across a fishing hut and a stricken van delivering fire wood. For fisherfolk – canoe relationship purposes (and we are nice guys) we pulled in and helped push the stricken van out off the quagmire and onto solid ground.
    With a warning from the van drive of some “pretty wild water” ahead, we set off.
    For the second time that morning we jumped out and inspected the rapid, saw a good line and went for it.



    I aimed for the left of the wave train, but the river didn’t want to know and sent me through the thick of it, waves crashing over the front and sides of my canoe, she once again filled up. I was now heading for an exposed ledge of rock, some rather hefty reverse stokes mixed with support strokes I managed to avoid the rock, then into the final set of waves.




    Still upright and grinning I pulled into an eddy to bail out again, 5 inches of water this time.
    Now it was Aberdeen or bust and we weren’t planning for bust.



    We cruised past Bachory, the weather was a mixture of drizzle/rain/damp/grey sometimes in that order; sometimes not.
    Just past Peterculter is an island and an option. River left =long way round, river right = short cut.
    We opted for the short cut, as it happens this turned out to be a bit of a jungle run, trees, rocks, shallows, along with various route options, all good fun.






    Once back on the main river, civilisation was creeping steadily in as we approached the city.





    In Aberdeen we changed our formation from “in line” to three boats “side by side”.
    We past the University and slowly but surely, we entered the City. Waving at folks when they waved at us, the end was now in sight.
    In close formation, we turned in to the Rowing club’s steps with a welcome wave from Jackie who had Tim’s van and trailer waiting and when all the boats were loaded we had officially finished our trip.


    To sum up the trip in one word- Fabulous.


    Cheers
    Tim


    Paddles a Prospector

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Surrey
    Posts
    21,909

    Default

    Superb blob, superb looking trip, which has now moved right up the list.
    Paddler,blogger,camper,pyromaniac: Blog: Wilderness is a State of Mind

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Just a little to the right of the Shire
    Posts
    2,773

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Grey View Post
    Superb blob.
    Smell chucker strikes again
    Cheers
    Tim


    Paddles a Prospector

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Surrey
    Posts
    21,909

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by tim View Post
    Smell chucker strikes again
    Obviously deliberate, given the amount of food you take....just like we do!



    OK, ya got me...
    Paddler,blogger,camper,pyromaniac: Blog: Wilderness is a State of Mind

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  14. #14

    Default

    Fantastic blogg, really enjoyed that one very much. Thank you for sharing.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Peak District
    Posts
    436

    Default

    Interesting to see it at lower water levels. We were obviously very lucky on our trip a few days earlier.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Just a little to the right of the Shire
    Posts
    2,773

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter R View Post
    Interesting to see it at lower water levels. We were obviously very lucky on our trip a few days earlier.
    Not sure who was the lucky ones TBH, I really enjoyed dodging the boulders. Even enjoyed the lining.
    Cheers
    Tim


    Paddles a Prospector

  17. #17

    Default

    Really enjoyed this. Thanks. As ever, enthralled by your fabulous array of cookware, and goblet-and-winebox approach to canoe tripping. We have often camped at the riverside campsite in Ballater on family holidays and I've thought what a magnificent trip the Dee would make. Looks like it certainly does.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Just a little to the right of the Shire
    Posts
    2,773

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Moosehead View Post
    Really enjoyed this. Thanks. As ever, enthralled by your fabulous array of cookware, and goblet-and-winebox approach to canoe tripping. We have often camped at the riverside campsite in Ballater on family holidays and I've thought what a magnificent trip the Dee would make. Looks like it certainly does.
    Thanks Graham, the Dee is a marvellous river that kept on giving.
    We may at some point go light weight on a trip, maybe ditch the table cloth? Who knows what is next?
    Cheers
    Tim


    Paddles a Prospector

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    SW France
    Posts
    2,786

    Default

    Taken me a while to get to reading this one but it didn't disappoint .... As ever.

    A proper trip which is only marred by the lack of photos of the spotted jock or associated pudding.

    On the last Scandinavian trip I managed to get my total pack weight down to about 12kg including pack and drone, I then dried food to make main meals of around 150g per person .... Then we added nearly 4kg of bacon and about 22.5 kg of wine, 5kg of malt and a pile of other food related stuff. Ultralight camping lives on.

    Really enjoyed this this one at a time when I was ready for a decent trip .... even if only vicariously

    thanks
    Last edited by MarkL; 4th-October-2017 at 07:34 PM.
    MarkL
    www.canoemassifcentral.com
    Open Canoe hire/outfitting in the Massif Central
    ”We will make your trip work”

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Just a little to the right of the Shire
    Posts
    2,773

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkL View Post
    Taken me a while to get to reading this one but it didn't disappoint .... As ever.

    A proper trip which is only marred by the lack of photos of the spotted jock or associated pudding.

    On the last Scandinavian trip I managed to get my total pack weight down to about 12kg including pack and drone, I then dried food to make main meals of around 150g per person .... Then we added nearly 4kg of bacon and about 22.5 kg of wine, 5kg of malt and a pile of other food related stuff. Ultralight camping lives on.

    Really enjoyed this this one at a time when I was ready for a decent trip .... even if only vicariously

    thanks
    Thanks Mark... you got down to 12kg! impressed.

    For you Spotted Jock and custard

    Cheers
    Tim


    Paddles a Prospector

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    East Sussex, England
    Posts
    124

    Default

    Awesome report Tim !!!

    Graham

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Kettering Northamptonshire
    Posts
    1,214

    Default

    Enjoyed that - thanks for some great breakfast reading.
    A ship should not ride on a single anchor, nor life on a single hope - Epictetus

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Fleet, Hampshire
    Posts
    2,057

    Default

    great blog with a nice balance of the 3 C's.... Canoeing, Camping & Cooking
    If I could only paddle like a doggie oughta paddle

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •